The problem with dreams is that reality never quite matches up. This is certainly true for virtual reality, specifically the new addition to the Echo VR lineup, Echo Combat.
When we first entered Echo Arena, everyone said, “this is just like Ender’s Game!” We still hear level 1s exclaim this as they materialize in the lobby.
For a year, players blasted around Echo Area, punching, scoring, socializing, and competing at top level for massive prizes. The entire time, one question sat at the back of everyone’s mind: when are we going to get frickin’ lasers?
Well, now the time has come. So, boot up your Echo and let’s head into Echo Combat.
1. The Run Down
Echo Combat comes with a whole new Echo. The redesigned echo, reminiscent of Chappie, includes a blockier design and an added antennae. The kinematics are the same with each Echo and you’ll feel right at home in your new Echo body if you’ve played Echo Arena.
The game includes three different weapons. The Pulsar is your typical rapid-fire machine gun analog. The Comet comes equipped with a laser sight and acts as a pseudo sniper gun. And the least popular Nova is your shotgun model.
Ordinance includes an Arc Mine, a Stun Field, and a Detonator. The most effective of which is the Stun which incapacitates an echo just long enough.
Tactical mods include a repair matrix, a threat scanner, and a semi-portable energy barrier.
There is only one game mode at the moment. It involves delivering a payload into the enemy team’s territory. The Payload will only move forward if the offense is touching the payload.
There are several checkpoints that add time to the clock.
If the defenders touch the payload it moves backward. If the offenders leave the payload alone for too long, it also begins to move backward along its track.
And everything happens in zero-G.
2. A Quick Review
Again, dreams don’t always match reality. If you talked to most Echo Arena players, they might have imagined something more akin to Ender’s Game. Massive battles in zero-G.
So far, as a beta, Echo Combat does not realize this dream.
The game includes three players per team. If I were to guess at why so few, I’d have to blame server availability and bandwidth issues.
I did notice a bit of a drag on my cable internet bandwidth as the extra features dropped my ping a little. But strangely, the server kept up and adjusted. I didn’t feel cheated when shooting at the other team and hitting my target, however.
The game is fun and strategic, but not nearly the massive space romp some might expect. But, to be fair, they are giving us frickin’ lasers in zero-gravity. And you can shoot your friends and then zoom away cackling like a maniac.
Pew Pew Drift
The game mechanics are excellent. Just like Echo Arena, the physics are a dream come true. You shoot your gun and your body drifts backward if you’re not holding onto something.
One thing you quickly realize when shooting is that the guns shoot energy bolts, not actual bullets. These move through space a tad slower and you must adjust your expectations if you want to hit your target with the comet.
One Game Mode?
The one game mode is strategic enough to warrant multiple playthroughs. But after a while, it begins to feel a little short like those janky roller coaster ride theaters malls tried out in the 90’s. It almost seems too easy for the offending team sometimes.
I’m personally hoping the full version of Echo Combat involves a massive battle mode with at least ten players per team and a longer payload game. Perhaps a capture the flag-esque game where a particular player becomes the “football” a la Ender’s Game?
Here’s hoping the final version blows us out of the airlock.